hello, welcome back to "newsline" i'm shery ahn. crimea's regional parliament has declared independence as a sovereign state. the ukrainian region held a referendum on sunday. people show overwhelming support for joining the russian federation. the assembly has decided to apply to become part of russia. now, earlier, russian president vladimir putin and u.s. president barack obama were on the phone discussing the referendum. putin says the vote was fully legal. putin's office quoted him as
saying the referendum was based on international law, and the united nations charter. he said the crimean people have the right to freely express their opinions, and to decide their own future. obama says the united states would never recognize the referendum. he said american and european leaders are prepared to impose what he calls additional costs on russia for its actions. the ruling party in serbia appears to have secured a sland slide victory in parliamentary elections. party leaders are pushing for membership in the european union. unofficial results suggest the serbian progressive party will win about 50% of the vote. party leader alexander vocic has already declared victory. he called it a chance to move forward. >> translator: i am sure that serbia will continue on its european path and convinced that we can closely cooperate with our friends around the world. russia, america, china, and all the others.
>> serbian leaders signed a deal normalizing ties with kosovo. then in january, they began talks with their counterparts in the eu. kosovo declared independence from serbia in 2008. but the serbians have refused to recognize its autonomy. the parents of a woman an dugted by north korean agents have met her daughter for the first time. the agents kidnapped megumi yokota nearly four decades ago. now her parents say they're overjoyed to have met their granddaughter. >> translator: it was like a dream come true. we've wished for this for years. for us, it was miraculous. >> shigeru and sakie yokota met kim eun gyong last week in ulan bator. she sees a resemblance between her daughter and her granddaughter. her husband says kim has grown up since he saw her on tv years ago.
megumi yo coto gave birth to kim after she was taken to north korea in 1977. in 2002, north korean officials said yokota had died years before. they provided remains they claimed were hers. but japanese officials say a dna test proved they were wrong. the yokotas say they didn't ask their granddaughter what had happened to megumi. they said they didn't want to make the meeting political. japanese government officials say at least 17 japanese nationals were abducted in the 1970s, and '80s. >> malaysian authorities are looking into the possibility that the pilots of the missing jet turned off the aircraft's communication systems. they say they may have done so voluntari voluntarily, or may have been forced. systems were cut off before the captain's final radio contact with air traffic controllers. the boeing -- the beijing bound plane carrying 239 people disappeared from radar on march 8th over the south china sea,
about 50 minutes after leaving kuala lumpur. the pilots were in contact with air controllers until just before the jet flew into vietnamese air traffic control space. malaysian government sources say part of the communications system was deliberately shut off before the last radio contact. however, they say there was nothing abnormal about the final radio message. the captain's last words were, "all right, good night." investigators say they have not ruled out the possibility that the plane was hijacked. they say the communications system can only be shut off by someone with extensive technical knowledge. they also say the aircraft is believed to have continued flying for several hours after it disappeared. let's now get the latest business stories from ron madison. >> all right. economic news kicks us off this hour. japan's government says the country's economy is recovering at a moderate pace. the recovery is supported by last-minute demand ahead of a
consumption tax increase in april. the term moderate recovery has now appeared for the third straight month in the government economic report. government officials say private consumption is rising with demand still high for automobiles, electronic appliances, and furniture. corporate capital investment is picking up, as smaller companies are buying machine tools ahead of the tax hike. the report indicates production is also increasing. that's an upgrade from february. as carmakers and appliancemakers rush to meet the brisk demand. taking a look down the road, government officials are cautious but they do expect the economy to remain on track on a recovery track, even after the tax hike. let's get a check of the markets now. investors remaining cautious as they kick off this new trading week. there are apparently waiting to see how the situation in crimea will develop. here's how major bourses in the asia pacific region finished out the day. as you can see there, most markets were down. shanghai, though, did outperform the region.
the advance followed an announcement that china plans to further promote urbanization policies. in fact the shanghai composite was up nearly 1% there, 2,023 at the close. shares of real estate and railway companies were in demand. beijing plans a major expansion of its transport networks and urban infrastructure under the plan. here in japan the nikkei average fell nearly 0.4%, 14,277. that's the fourth straight session of losses now. pretty broad range of shares were sold, as the yen's strength continued to weigh on overall sentiment. and in taiwan one of the markets did show gains today, up just over 0.1%, 8,700. investor sentiment got a boost from growing expectations that the country's financial regulators may ease day trading rules. well, authorities in shanghai have ordered japanese cameramaker nikon to approve after-sale services. they took the step after a tv consumer show reported complaints about defective
products. city officials also ordered nikon to stop selling its d600 camera in china. state run television reported the complaints on its popular investigative program on saturday. it said local consumers did not get satisfactory responses from nikon after they complained that its digital cameras left black specks on pictures. nikon officials said they're taking the order very seriously. they added that the company will continue to offer high quality standardized services to its customers in china. they did note, though, that nikon did make the problem public in february 2013, and has been replacing defective parts free of charge. the officials said the d600 camera is sold worldwide but that the model is no longer in production. a leading japanese bank has become entangled in a legal battle over what used to be the world's largest exchange for bitcoins. mizuho bank has been named as a
defendant in a u.s. class action lawsuit against mtgox. the suit accuses mizuho of conspiracy to commit fraud. mtgox is based in tokyo. executives there filed for bankruptcy protection in japan late last month. last week, they sought protection from u.s. creditors. the company says hackers stole about $100 million worth of customers' bitcoins and cash. other estimates put that value closer to half a billion dollars. the complaint submitted to the federal district court in illinois alleges that mizuho helped mtgox commit fraud. it says mizuho learned that the exchange was not properly keeping company and customers' funds separate but continued to service its account. mizuho bank's representatives have declined to comment. they say they don't know the details of this lawsuit. women have long struggled to get a fair deal in the workplace and society, and many government and business leaders have supported their efforts. one global gender equality
survey ranked japan 105th among 136 nations. women have few opportunities in the private and public sectors. but that could be changing. prime minister shinzo abe says removing obstacles women face in crucial to reviving the economy. right now, they do shoulder much of the burden at home. women struggle to find day care spots for their kids. and many companies just don't offer flexible working arrangements. but there are some signs of change. and we'll be showing them to you in two special reports here on "newsline." nhk world's keiko aso starts us off. she has a look at what some firms are doing to keep women on the payroll. >> reporter: life can sometimes feel like a juggling act for mackico. in between housekeeping and raising a 3-year-old, she also works full time. her husband is too busy with his job to help out much. but her managers have taken
notice of all the pressure. they let her work from home five days a month. that saves her two hours of commuting, and gives her more time with her daughter. >> translator: if i didn't have this flexible working arrangement, i wouldn't know how i'd be able to raise her. >> reporter: since the company introduced the measures, women have been staying there as long as men, 16 years. the nationwide average is less than 10 years. >> translator: our employees each have different working arrangements. but they still deliver results. >> reporter: most believe japanese women quit their jobs because they find it too difficult to raise children at the same time. but the new poll suggests a different reason. 63% of women resigned because
they are dissatisfied with their careers, compared to 32 who left for child care-related reasons. the situation is essentially the opposite of that in the u.s. and germany. professor osawa says japanese companies aren't doing enough to groom female employees. >> translator: it was a top priority to keep women on a career track. but they didn't get enough incentive. so, many left their jobs when they got married. >> reporter: this beverage maker is encouraging female workers to develop their careers. they want to triple the ratio of women in managerial positions to 12% by 2021. they're trying to give female employees more wide-ranging
experience before they get close to child-bearing age. they've also set up a mentorship program. yuko is one of the managers helping women with part of their professional future. she's figured out how to balance work and care for her 5-year-old son. she mentors sakiko. the mentorship program has helped her get a clearer picture of her career path. >> translator: i want to get experience, and hopefully join the managerial ranks in the future to lead my own team. >> translator: it would be nice if i could become a role model for my younger peers, and help them feel that if she can do it, we can do it, too. that would greatly energize the company. >> reporter: she is one of few
female road models in the company. but human resources staff say they are actively working to diversify their ranks. >> translator: we will provide our female employees with various job opportunities, and support systems. in return, we hope they'll do their best to meet expectations. >> reporter: japanese leaders are aiming to put women in 30% of all senior positions by 2020. reaching the goal will require companies to not just make work more flexible for their female staff, but more challenging, too. keiko aso, nhk world, tokyo. all right. be sure and join us for the second part of this series. we'll be taking a look at the latest efforts by the government, as well as companies, to bring back talented women into the workforce. and that is going to do it for biz this hour. we'll close things out with the markets.
from around the world. >> get all the latest business news and insight every day. here on "newsline." syrian government and opposition forces have been struggling for controlling towns along the border with lebanon. government commanders say the recaptured a town that was strategically important for the opposition. state-run tv reports forces loyal to president bashar al assad have driven fighters out of the town of yabrud. the opposition had used the town as a hub for transporting weapons to the suburbs of the capital damascus. an opposition activist says the streets are filled with government soldiers and people have shut themselves in their homes. japan's emperor has offered a ceremonial welcome to visiting vietnamese president truong tan sang at tokyo's imperial palace. emperor akihito and empress michiko along with crown pins naruhito greeted the president
and his wife. they began a four-day state visit on sunday. about 250 people, mostly japanese and vietnamese students were waving the two-nation flag. a participant spoke for half an hour after the welcoming ceremony. president sang says that ties between the two countries are stronger than ever. with bilateral exchanges of various types on the rise. the emperor replied by saying he was pleased to hear this. on sunday, the visiting president inspected agricultural facilities in inarie prefecture northeast of tokyo. a strawberry greenhouse officials explained how the fruit is grown so that it can be picked more easily. the president tasted a strawberry named ibara-kiss which was first cultivated in the prefecture. he then moved to a nearby town to inspect farm machinery and an unmanned drone aircraft used to spray agricultural chemicals. officials from the prefecture in vote flap signed a memorandum on
strengthening agricultural cooperation. ibaraki will sent agricultural engineers to the southeast asian nation and accept farming returns from the country. japanese health officials are looking down the road and trying to steer clear of a crisis. the decades old universal health care system is under strain and things are expected to get worse as the population ages. so the government leaders are songing at transforming one of the most expensive parts of the system, hospitals. nhk world's june oikawa has the story. >> reporter: at any given moment, millions of people in japan are using the health care system. for operations, for vaccinations, or just for
checkups. running it costs $400 billion annually. and the bill goes up by nearly $10 billion every year. japanese leaders are worried the system will soon be unsustainable. >> translator: we need to reform our medical system to ensure adequate distribution of health care resources. >> reporter: health care in japan is funded by central and local government insurance providers, and individuals. each medical procedure has a fixed price. that won't change. but, members of a government council say other aspects need to. the council submitted a report last month to the health minister. members said there are too many hospitals with too many nurses carrying for critically ill patients. right now, there are 360,000 beds across the country.
the council recommends reducing that number to 270,000 over the next two years. that will save $600 million. the council members suggest hospitals become more centralized in terms of the care they provide. they say patients should change hospitals in accordance with their conditions. those who just received emergency surgery are considered to be in acute phase. but, as they get better, they could be transferred to other hospitals, or returned home. institutions that have patients in recovery would have access to a new stream of funding. the council also recommends more doctors and nurses be available to make home visits. >> translator: most of the post-war baby boomers will be 75 or older by 2025.
we must start now to improve the health care system. >> reporter: this medical expert agrees in principle with the plan to reduce hospital beds. but, he says it may be difficult to do in practice. he says the council will be better off rethinking how it has hospitals and insurers to reduce the cost of procedures. >> they always think about that. economically. very, very little incentive to make improvement, and reduce the cost. >> reporter: japan's health care system has been in place for 50 years, and it's continued to evolve. some say it is going to last into the future it needs to become more efficient so it will be better able to serve the
country's aging population. jooun a cow wow, nhk world, tokyo. japanese researchers are warning that a failure to step up measures against global warming will lead to more floods. the predicted resulting damage could cause japan $4.7 billion a year around the end of this century. experts from 28 universities, and research institutes spent four years on the study. they say if nothing more is done to stop global warming, a rise in temperatures and an increase in rainfall will bring more floods. the report also says the number of people suffering heat stroke could more than double across japan. in addition, the quality of rice may deteriorate in many parts of the country and most mandarin orange producers won't be able to continue growing the fruit. the report calls for the reinforcement of river embankments, as well as the introduction of heat resistant crops to limit damage.
let's now bring in our meteorologist robert speta. robert, we kicked off this week beautifully here in tokyo, sunny, springlike weather. can we expect it to last through the week? >> well, shery at least it is going to be warming up the early part of this coming week. we are going to be seeing some rain showers about midway through. i'm going to get to that in a second. this past weekend it was absolutely beautiful out here. eens ratures in the high t in tokyo, even in the mid 20s down towards the south. you can see i took this photo yesterday here. and these are the plum blossoms. not quite the cherry blossoms yet but people enjoying it, having some picnics. but meanwhile down towards the south, also some of the beaches opened up into southern japanese islands. want to show you video out of here, if you want to roll that, where one of the southern most islands opened up their beaches and temperatures in the mid 20s. but the water was also in the
mid 20s. that's the thing to keep in mind. very chilly water here. obviously people did not stay in there all that long. but it is signs of things to come. spring is on its way. let's go ahead and roll this back here and what we can see through the next several days, we're even going to see that warming trend. that's because we have a low pressure area coming out of korea, and that's going to pump in that southerly warm jet out ahead of it and push those temperatures up, even into tokyo, some of the warmest temperatures yet here in 2014. unfortunately there's a caveat. and that is, that it is also bringing in those rain showers. the heavy rain accompanied by the warmer weather could cause some rapid snow melt in some of the higher elevations. you're talking brifr flooding. also the threat of avalanche. it's still chilly toward the north so snow fall across hokkaido. here's the two-day forecast, going through well your tuesday out through wednesday. and down towards naha, still in the 20s. tokyo up to 18 by tuesday. later on this week we are going to see another low come through
and that's going to bring another shot of rain showers by thursday. but meanwhile, we are looking at this warming trend. that's also going to be coming with some westerly winds. we've been talking about the haze in eastern parts of china. that yellow scan, as well, that's going to push east through the day on wednesday. so if you are one of the people that have problems with the upper gi, bad respiratory issues, watch out for this on wednesday, not only japan, korea, but also northeastern china. for now china you are going to see some high pressure and fairly dry weather out here that will be released later on this week with the next developing low. the tropics quiet but we are watching a low there. look at the southern philippines. you're going to expect some rain showers later on this week as well. something to keep an eye out for. temperatures look like this. manila high of 32. partly cloudy skies. taipei up to 26. ulan bator, minus 2 there. not even reaching the freezing mark, though. still very chilly for those of you off towards the north. this past weekend a lot of people also celebrated st. patrick's day around the world, and i do want to show you this image. it's really neat. it's out of chicago.
they do this every year. dyeing the river green. it's a very unusual sight. some fair weather to go along with that. and much of the midwest, you're still going to see some decent weather on your monday. it's the southeast where you're seeing severe weather. and across the mid-atlantic states, even in the higher elevations, about 30 centimeters of snow could be possible. florida you're also looking at some severe thunderstorms popping off here on your monday. but by tuesday, that low is going to move out. high's going to work its way back in making for some drier conditions. unfortunately dry weather is making for fire weather and also dust storms across parts of texas. temperatures are on the rise, though. houston with a high of 16. by your tuesday. this is going to be about 10 degrees higher at 26. and meanwhile, rain showers still impacting those of you across much of the pacific northwest. here's the extended forecast.
and before i wrap up, once again, crimea's regional parliament has declared independence as a sovereign state. the ukrainian region held a referendum on sunday. people showed overwhelming support for joining the russian federation. the assembly has decided to apply to become part of russia. and that's all for this hour
>> from ukraine, germany russia. western leaders declare the moscow backed referendum to be illegal. the west is set to respond to eu ministers meeting this monday to decide on further tough sanctions against russia. the city of smog. the french government imposes harsh restrictions on city drivers as officials battle record pollution levels. hello and welcome to "france 24 ." top story -- and eu foreign minister due to discuss further sa